As you all know, the current VStar help (Help -> Help Contents...) is pretty minimal and I've been meaning to do something about this for quite awhile. I could say that my focus has been more on functionality and bug fixes than anything else, but that's really just an excuse. I've written a fair amount about VStar here and in other places, such as my blog, newsletters, and an eJAAVSO paper (see the links in the Help! section at the end of http://www.aavso.org/vstar-overview or https://sourceforge.net/p/vstar/wiki/Home), given talks at Citizen Sky, NACAA and a couple of astronomical societies.
Let's face it, what's needed, more than anything else, is a da da daaaa... user manual!
So I'd like to propose a community-based user manual project for VStar to which anyone can contribute upon request. It would be:
- Google Docs based.
- A VStar Docs folder has been created and I will start to populate it soon.
- I will share the document to anyone wishing to contribute a section or chapter or be a reviewer or proof reader. Options are to share the document URL to whoever asks. Another is to require Google login before the document can be updated. I recently wrote a paper with several other authors who had to be logged in. I think that worked well because we could see who was working on the doc, who was adding review comments, could chat to other authors etc.
- Split into separate documents per major section.
When "complete", it would be exported as Word/PDF for distribution. Whether it stays in Google Docs for future revisions or moves to SourceForge+Subversion is an open question. That's where the plugin development document currently is (https://sourceforge.net/p/vstar/code/960/tree/trunk/plugin/doc).
My role would be to:
- Coordinate the overall structure of the document.
- Contribute some of the content.
- Act as "lead author", looking at coverage and consistency.
One of the benefits of others writing sections of such a document other than spreading the work around, is that it will generate questions about how things work that I take for granted. It may also find bugs.
Please let me know what you think.
No matter how many people show interest, I will almost certainly start taking this approach to creating a user manual anyway. I would welcome input and contributions from the VStar user community.
The next post will propose an initial table of contents.